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Commemorating 150 Years of Memorial Day

“Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices.”
– Harry S. Truman

On the 150th anniversary of Memorial Day, people will gather across the country to remember and honor those brave men and women who gave the greatest sacrifice while serving in the United States military.

Though the reason for the holiday is born out of loss; the spirit of those soldiers is, indeed, something to celebrate. Since 1868, Americans have set aside a day in May to honor and remember our fallen soldiers. Originally known as Decoration Day due to the tradition of decorating soldiers’ graves in the years following the Civil War, this day of national observance gradually became known as Memorial Day and became a national holiday in 1971.

Every year, communities gather—family and friends, young and old, civilian and service member—for parades, backyard barbecues, speeches, concerts, and fireworks. While the National Memorial Day Parade in Washington, D.C., may be our nation’s largest Memorial Day event, there are celebrations in cities and towns across the country this weekend. Here are just a few of our favorites.

Memorial Day 2018 Events

Rolling Thunder

May 25-28, 2018 — A weekend of events including a candlelight vigil, wreath-laying ceremonies, and speakers, Rolling Thunder celebrates 31 years this Memorial Day. The centerpiece of the weekend is the First Amendment Demonstration Run—the world’s largest single-day motorcycle event—on May 27. Riders travel a route from the Pentagon in Virginia, across Memorial Bridge into D.C., and around the National Mall. The Run raises awareness and accountability for American POWs and MIAs who still have not made it home from war.

Truman Memorial Day Rose Ceremony

May 28, 2018 — Hosted by the Truman Center for National Policy and the Truman National Security Project San Diego Chapter, this sunrise ceremony includes elected officials, community leaders, veterans, gold star families, and the public are invited to place roses on the graves of veterans at Rosecrans National Cemetery. RSVPs are required.

Memorial Day 100 Run

May 26-27, 2018 — The mission of the Memorial Day 100 is to “honor our past by embracing our future.” Runners are all Marine Veterans and family members of the 3rd Battalion, 25th Regiment who served in Iraq. Now in its eighth year, the annual 100-mile relay run takes place at a different location each year and has raised over $160,000 for veterans. This year’s run starts in Hermitage, Pennsylvania; and ends at the WWII Memorial in Pittsburgh.

Parade of Ships

May 23, 2018 — Look to the New York Harbor for the Parade of Ships as it kicks off Fleet Week; a week-long celebration (May 23-29) in New York City honoring members of the United States Navy, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps. The flotilla of visiting vessels and tall ships cruise along the Hudson River from Battery Park to the George Washington Bridge.

Garden of Flags

May 23-28, 2018 — Each year, the Massachusetts Military Heroes organization plants 37,000+ American flags in front of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Boston Common. This Garden of Flags commemorates Massachusetts service members who have given their lives to defend the United States since the Revolutionary War.

National Moment of Remembrance

May 28, 2018 — One event we can all participate in is the National Moment of Remembrance, established by Congress in 2000. At 3 p.m. (local time) on Memorial Day, a moment is observed across the country in memory of fallen soldiers. Baseball games pause, train whistles blow, “Taps” plays, flags wave, and yes, even barbecues stop.

Wherever you are this holiday weekend, however you’re celebrating, pause a moment to hold these soldiers and their families in your hearts and minds, and to remember those who gave “the last full measure of devotion.” It is a debt we can never repay. May we be worthy of their sacrifice.

From all of us at Network for Good…Happy Memorial Day.

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